Read part two of this series: Can Depression and Anxiety Make You Sick: Long Term Health Effects

While we're constantly learning more and more about how our brains work, one thing we do know is that our brains and our bodies are interconnected. One cannot exist without the other, and when we suffer from psychological disorders, we often endure physical effects as well. 

What is Anxiety? 

Anxiety is a feeling all human beings experience from time to time. It serves as a signal of nearby danger or conflict, and triggers us to respond to the situation in order to protect ourselves. 

This feeling of fear, dread, and uneasiness is typical to experience in certain situations. However when people experience excessive, persistent, and intense anxiety, it’s a sign that the anxiety has surpassed its role and has progressed to a disorder. 

What is Depression?

Depression is a mood disorder characterized by feelings of sadness, and loss of interest and pleasure in activities that were once enjoyable. Sadness is another typical human emotion that absolutely every human being will experience every now and again.

It is not uncommon for people to experience bouts of depression in response to major life changes that may be viewed as negative, such as the death of a loved one or the loss of a job. When these feelings become persistent and ongoing, then it may be considered a depressive disorder.

Mental Wellness is More than Just Mental 

Both depression and anxiety can severely interfere with people’s everyday life and their ability to function and perform even the most basic tasks. For many, it can be debilitating. Depression and anxiety certainly have effects on your mental wellbeing, but can they make you physically sick?

Can Anxiety Make You Feel Sick?

Anxiety catapults your body into a stress response (fight, flight, freeze, or fawn) whenever a real or perceived threat arises. This happens whether someone is experiencing a rare bout of anxiety or struggling with a persistent anxiety disorder. 

Being thrown into survival mode every once in a while to protect yourself from danger is healthy and natural. Being in this state persistently can be problematic mentally and take a toll physically.

Being in this alert state activates the body’s stress hormones and spikes blood pressure. These physical responses are activated in times of danger so that you can respond appropriately to keep yourself safe, but it is not meant to be in this elevated state frequently or consistently.

Anxiety and Gut Health

Anxiety affects people’s bodies and the way they feel. It can make people dizzy and lightheaded. Chronic anxiety often leads people to suffer from headaches and migraines. Certain anxiety disorders are associated with chest pain.

Anxiety can lead to a wide variety of gastrointestinal (GI) issues. The gut is frequently referred to as the “second brain” of the human body—the mind is directly connected to the GI tract. When anxiety is running rampant, it can manifest itself in the gut in the form of nausea, cramps, indigestion, diarrhea or constipation, and loss of appetite.

Can Depression Make You Sick?

Depression is an all-too-common struggle affecting 300 million people worldwide. People battling depression suffer from more than feelings of sadness. Depression can lead to the development of physical issues and a wide array of symptoms affecting more than just mood.

Depression and Pain

Depression is associated with low energy and fatigue almost every day—physically, mentally, and emotionally. People with depression often have unexplained aches and pains, especially in their joints, muscles, and back. Perhaps, this is due to the fact that depression and pain go hand in hand in that they share the same neural pathways. The brain even releases the same chemicals and hormones when someone experiences either one.

People suffering from depression typically suffer from sleep difficulties ranging from being unable to sleep at all, or sleeping too much. Depression is also tied to changes in appetite and weight, and a decreased libido.

Depression Symptoms Can Make You Sick

Lack of sleep, improper nutrition, and pain all contribute to people further suffering from more health issues. People battling depression typically have impaired immunity and get sick easily and often. 

People who are depressed are often unable to get themselves up to do any physical activity. It can cause them to have noticeably weakened psychomotor ability such as impaired or slow speech, eye movement, facial expressions, and body movement. It is difficult to think, focus, and make even simple decisions.

Depression is Also Connected to Gut Health

Depression is another mental health issue that is strongly tied to problems in the GI tract. Similar to anxiety, depression can lead people to experiencing symptoms such as nausea, indigestion, stomach pain, and abnormal bowel movements.  

The Mind-Body Relationship

In the United States, anxiety disorders are the most common mental issues affecting 19.1% of the population. It is incredibly common to suffer from both anxiety and depression, rather than just one or the other. 

The relationship between mental health and physical health is often directly related and cyclical. One is a result of the other, which then perpetuates the initial problem. You could be depressed because of your pain or your depression could cause your pain. 

Many who don’t struggle with their own mental health, may have a hard time understanding the effects depression and anxiety can have on someone and their everyday life. Whether you are fighting with your own mental health issues or not, the battle is incredibly real and can cause serious and debilitating issues.

Inner Peace with Inner Balance

Inner Balance is a counseling center with a team of caring and experienced counselors. We utilize evidence-based treatments to help you get to where you want to be. 

If you suffer from anxiety or depression, no matter how severe, we can help you end the hold it has on your life. Call today at 602-497-2912 to request a free consultation. Together, we’ll work towards a brighter, more balanced future.

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Katy Kandaris-Weiner, LPC

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